• Christian Lynn

Mapping out the next step – Why the third National Treasure film should come first

Declaration of Keeping the Old Cast - The only Cage can convince in a role that, at one point, asks for him to protect himself from bullets with an ancient, encased document.

On paper, National Treasure is another Indiana Jones clone; a Disney-appropriate adaptation involving a treasure hunter, his love interest, a quirky sidekick and his Dad, tracking down an ancient artefact on some elaborate trail. Yet, it worked thanks to the charms of its unique lead, Nicolas Cage, and it still has its fans, one of which is me.

We’ve have been clamouring for a follow-up, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer has confirmed that a script is being developed for a third entry.

But, there has been an interesting revelation in an interview between Collider and Bruckheimer: Disney+ will showcase a new TV series inspired by the films, focusing on a new, young cast. Moreover, it’s further into the development pipeline than the third film.

Why does this bother me? Because it seems like Disney are too keen to get going with the new, and are ignoring the effect that the absence of the original cast will have on its popularity. If they’re going to take this route, it requires The Force Awakens touch – a marriage of the classic characters and the up-and-comers.

National Treasure's unique appeal doesn't need fixing...we still want the harmless fun of Cage and company cruising past death traps...

After all, a property like Star Wars needs no clever narrative strategy to prove popular – even if it only relied on the new cast members/characters, The Force Awakens would still have pulled in billions at the box office. National Treasure is a far smaller success, but the success of the brand lies in how synonymous Nicolas Cage is with the franchise.

Whether you take his historical jargon seriously or can’t help but laugh when he placidly announces that he’s ‘going to steal the Declaration of Independence’, Cage is still the centrepiece, a curiously charismatic talisman that you can’t substitute for obvious reasons. So, why seek to replace him without giving him a third and final chance to cap off an unlikely trilogy?

Declaration of Keeping the Old Cast - Only Nicolas Cage can convince in a role that, at one point, asks for him to protect himself from bullets with an ancient, encased document.

There are blindingly obvious ways of integrating Cage and the rest of the prime guard (Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha and Jon Voight) into a new film that introduces a younger crew of eventual successors. I’m sure the idea of Cage and Kruger having a kid crossed Disney’s convention-keeping mind.

Better still, why not have Cage and Kruger operate as historical experts that the new cast have to seek out to help them in their quest? It’s fundamental storytelling stuff that dates back to Vladimir Propp’s narrative theory, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And National Treasure’s unique appeal doesn’t need fixing either: we still want the harmless fun of Cage and company cruising past death traps and dangerous hitmen, to reach their epic reward.

Rope in Millie Bobby Brown or Jacob Tremblay. The former has an established fanbase that could level out the National Treasure fans for a successful return, sparking interest in a new show led by her. Alternatively, Tremblay could act as the perfect Goonies-esque conduit for the childhood wonderment that Disney made a business from capturing. Linking these leads with some relative unknowns (older in the case of Tremblay) and you’ve got a simple yet succinct method of spinning the franchise off into the new Disney+ series.

Nevertheless, it still needs easing in if it’s going to work. No one is arguing for National Treasure’s placement in the Library of Congress (even though it seems ironically appropriate for a franchise so obsessed with American history). But it has its followers, who can’t get enough of Cage’s antics – throwing a tantrum in Buckingham Palace to get him closer to a clue is a comedic highlight that needs topping.

So, if you’re going to go ahead with a new series, at least give us one last showing of Cage, Kruger, Bartha and Voight, teaming up with whoever the Mouse House has lined up: we deserve to know what’s on page 47, as teased in the conclusion of the last instalment. Just don’t let it be aliens – National Treasure might pay homage to Indiana Jones, but please, not that much loyalty.

Do you reckon they should go ahead with the series? Or should we end the trilogy and call it a day with National Treasure? Leave some feedback and let me know! If you liked the article, subscribe to the website! I'll keep you updated on all of the latest posts. And follow The Film Foyer on social media! All of the links can be found in the feedback form at the bottom of the page.